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Hinduism – A Great University of Religions

Hinduism, as the ancients conceived it, was a great University of Religions, where they studied Nature in a scientific and systematic form, founded their schemes of Philosophy on its essential laws, reared their systems of Religion on both, and applied them to the use of the average man in his work-a-day life.

Subject - Science of Life
They believed that there was a Science of Life, that there was on Law made manifest in many forms, governing the universe; and so, by extending the truths of the Known to the Unknown, they constructed their theories of this and the other world – comprehending all that the human mind can understand or imagine.

The Students in the University
And he who entered the portals of this great University and studied the Law of Life in a systematic and scientific manner, was a Hindu. All truth arises from doubt; we ask questions when we think; and all knowledge is born when, not knowing, we wish to know.

We begin with denial or doubt, and end with conviction o truth; but to come to this conclusion we must pass through a number of stages of thought. This must necessarily be so when we attempt to study the whole universe, and the origin and end of things.

Different Paths the Students Take
The problem is so vast, that it cannot be examined from a single point of view; and the different ways in which we can make the attempt, give us the different schemes of Hindu Philosophy and Religion. We might deny or doubt even the existence of God; we might associate him with Nature in the creation of life, or regard him as the sole creator of the universe, - but so long as we make an attempt to study the question in a proper manner, we are Hindus.

And so atheists and agnostics, dualists, qualified monists, and pure monists, Jains, Buddhists, Shaivties, Vaishnavties… all belong to one brotherhood of thought, and their systems of religion constitute but different stages in the attainment of Truth in a scientific and systematic form.

As in a great University we have different faculties and courses of study, different examinations and degrees, to mark the scholar’s attainments, matriculation, the Intermediate stage, the Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees, and finally the doctorate – and all students, from the lowest rung of the ladder to the highest landing, claim the University for their alma mater, even so was it with Hinduism as it was originally conceived; and all those belonged to this great University of Life and were prepared to study its problems under proper discipline were Hindus.

Those, however, who were outside its pale, even though they might accept its conclusions, could not understand the different stages through which we must pass to attain to the Ultimate Truth.

Hinduism Adapts to the Need of the Society
Hinduism is perhaps the oldest religion existing in the world and has passed through many vicissitudes through its long and chequered history, and it should hardly cause surprise that its original conception has been altered through the lapse of years.

But its systems of philosophy and religion, a described in the Sacred Books, are still unchanged; and, though actual practice can seldom conform to principles, we may still find in the daily worship of the Hindus today the basis of essential ideas as originally conceived.

Atheist and Believer are Equally at Home
Indeed there is no religion in the world which receives the atheist and the agnostic as well as a believer in God equally into its fold; and that is because atheism leads to agnosticism, and the latter to dualism; and thence we rise to qualified Monism, and end in belief in God as the sole supreme creator of the universe.

Source - the article taken from the introduction chapter of the book titled The Mystery of the Mahabharata: Vol.4 by N.V. Thadani Published in 1934